Hellgate: London Preview

Originally Posted on May 29, 2006: Link.

The creative minds behind the wildly popular Diablo franchise are back to work on what they hope will be the next big hit for their company, Hellgate: London, a hybrid first-person Action/RPG set in the near future where demons are roaming the land after a portal to hell opens up in the center of the English capital. Mankind has been forced to live underground, and you are their only hope to vanquish these beasts and send them back to where they came from. Flagship Studios hopes to entice the gamer audience with hellish monsters and exotic weaponry, most of which can be modified and enhanced.

Players take the role of either a Templar, a knight trained in the art of holy magic to fight against the hordes of hell’s demons, or a Cabalist, arcane experts that experiment with science and black magic. Both of these classes have their own quirks, where players can fuse their weapons with magic or the newest advances in technology.

The key word for this game is “random”. Just like with the Diablo games, the game creates random levels each time you play, so you and your friend will never have the exact same experience. Additionally, the loot the players pick up (items, money, etc.) will also be random, allowing the player a once-in-a-lifetime experience every time they play, and also offering a ton of replayability in the process.

In order to stand out from the rest of those pesky FPS games that have been flooding the market, the folks at Flagship Studios have decided to implement a handy new feature. “We have over 100 base weapon types in the game,” Bill Roper, CEO of Flagship, says, “and these form the foundation of the great item game we have in Hellgate: London. When a new weapon is dynamically generated, there are a host of possible attributes that may be applied to give it different properties.” An interesting facet to combat is the ability to dual-wield two different weapon types at once, mixing and matching as you see fit.

The weapons include a feature where you can modify your gun with five different damage types to give it that extra kick in the cherries: Physical Damage (grants the ability to knock down opponents, Fire Damage (burns the enemy and does damage over time) Spectral Damage (wears down tough armor), Toxic Damage (poisons enemies with damage over time), and finally, Electrical Damage (which shocks your enemies). Players can also mod some of their equipment with various technological and magical elements, including Ammo Clips, Battery Packs, Fuel Tanks, Relics, and even Rockets.

One of the most exciting features is the implementation of both a single-player mode and a multiplayer mode, where the player can jump online to do battle with 1 to 31 other combatants. The only game mode Flagship has mentioned is that it will probably have some sort of PvP (Player Versus Player) where teams are competing to capture relics and return them to their base (think CTF with multiple flags). Ivan Sulic, the community manager for Flagship, has confirmed that there will be SOME kind of FREE online play. They don’t know how they are going to distribute their content. Will they make a separate large, persistent world, or make episodic content for people to download, release expansion packs once in a while like Guild Wars, or maybe something else? That question is still up in the air currently.

The graphics in this game are nothing short of stunning. Everything from the lighting and shadowing, to the detailed character models and particle effects are all masterfully created and transformed into a wonderful visually-pleasing experience. Even the create-a-character feature is very well done, with the ability to change your character’s height, face, hair, build, and other features (even selecting from a list of tattoos and scars).

Hellgate: London hopes to make a splash on your PC early next year, with beta testing beginning later this year. Taking a passage from id’s own John Carmack’s bible, Flagship has said that the game will be done, when it’s done.

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